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BSSM 12th Conference, Sheffield

Sheffield University, Sheffield
29-31 August 2017

Conference Chair: Dr Rachel Tomlinson, University of Sheffield

The conference was held at the University of Sheffield in the centenary year for the Departments of Mechanical, Civil and Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Steeped in industrial and Victorian heritage, the conference showcased novel and innovative research in Experimental Mechanics, fitting well in the latter two activities.  

In additional to a stimulating technical programme and the ‘traditional extras’, including the BSSM EMex exhibition of experimental mechanics and the BSSM Young Stress Analyst Competition, delegates also had the opportunity to explore Sheffield’s industrial past at the conference dinner at the Kelham Island Industrial Museum.

Conference Programme


Keynote Presentation

"Linking Length Scales: Investigating the Effect of Microscale Strain Localization on Macroscopic Response"
Professor Sam Daly, Associate Professor from the University of California, Santa Barbara, USA

Samantha Daly is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California at Santa Barbara. She received her PhD from the Division of Engineering and Applied Science at Caltech in 2007 and subsequently joined the faculty at the University of Michigan, where she was on the faculty until 2016 prior to her move to UCSB.

Her interests lie at the intersection of experimental mechanics and materials science, with an emphasis on using novel methods of experimentation coupled closely with theoretical and computational modeling. Group research focuses on the statistical quantification of microstructural features of materials and their effect on meso- and macro-scale properties. Currently, the group is engaged in the development of novel methods of multi-scale material characterization, with application to structural metallic alloys, active materials, advanced composites, very high cycle and low cycle fatigue mechanisms, plasticity, fracture, and material behavior at the microscale. Her recognitions include the NSF CAREER Award, the ASME Eshelby Mechanics Award, the Journal 
of Strain Analysis Young Investigator Award, the Experimental Mechanics Best Paper of the Year Award, the IJSS Best Paper of the Year Award, the DOE Early Career Award, the AFOSR-YIP Award, the ASME Orr Award, and the Caddell Award.


The accurate measurement of deformation in response to thermo-mechanical loads is a fundamental requirement in the characterization of materials and structures. Of particular interest is the connection between the macroscopic and microscopic length scales, where strain localization at the grain or constituent level can play critical roles in overall material deformation and ultimate failure of the material. The identification of specific microstructural characteristics that lead to local damage accumulation and accelerated failure, and their mitigation, is key for the informed development and optimization of materials. This talk will present our recent work on exploring these connections using a combination of distortion-corrected digital image correlation and scanning electron microscopy to measure deformation fields at small length scales, including a new use of functionalized nanoparticles for deformation tracking. These approaches enable us to glean critical insights into material behavior, including the impact of microstructure on damage accumulation in aerospace composites and the relationship between processing and performance in metallic alloys. Recent studies on metallic alloys will be discussed as an illustrative example of these emerging experimental approaches and the meaningful analysis of their application.

Keynote Presentation

"Credibility in computational biology based on experimental mechanics"
Professor Eann Patterson, University of Liverpool

Eann Patterson holds the AA Griffith Chair in Structural Materials and Mechanics at the University of Liverpool where he is also a University Learning and Teaching Fellow. He held a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award from 2011 to 2016 and previously held joint appointments in Departments of Mechanical Engineering and of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at Michigan State University from 2004 to 2011. He earned his BEng and PhD at the University of Sheffield, where he was a member of staff from 1985 to 2004.

He is a fellow of Society for Experimental Mechanics and is a recipient of their Frocht Award and Zandman Award.


In a digital world where physical tests are often perceived to be difficult, time-consuming, unreliable, and expensive, what is the role of experimental mechanics? One answer to this question is to develop measurement techniques that are more straightforward, quick, more reliable and cheaper. And, many researchers have tackled these challenges with considerable success and, often by embracing digital technologies. An alternative answer is to celebrate the richness of the data generated by well-designed physical tests incorporating the best in experimental mechanics and to develop data analysis and interpretation techniques that maximise the impact of test data on modelling and decision- making. The latter requires experimental mechanicians to think about epistemiology, or how we know what we know, and how to communicate that knowledge to stakeholders and decision-makers. This is not straightforward for a complex engineering system and becomes an order of magnitude more difficult in computational biology when the design is undefined, the system is non-linear and exhibits emergent behaviour, and experiments might yield limited on no quantitative data. These issues will be explored, starting from efforts in aerospace and nuclear engineering to establish credibility in computational mechanics models using experimental mechanics, and progressing to the transition of the concepts into computational biology and current work on establishing credibility for predictive toxicology in support of regulatory processes.

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